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City’s big businesses fear tax hike after congestion pricing is ‘paused’

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Don’t look at us!

The city’s largest businesses are calling on Governor Hochul to slow her roll in reportedly trying to hit them with another tax hike after she brought congestion pricing to a screeching halt.

Saying the contentious traffic tax would sock it to low- and middle-income New Yorkers and jeopardize the city’s fragile post-COVID recovery, Hochul on Wednesday declared that congestion pricing “risks too many unintended consequences at this time” and decreed the scheme “indefinitely paused.”

In turn, Hochul is reportedly now eyeing boosting the Payroll Mobility Tax, or PMT, to fund the revenue for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that was supposed to be provided by congestion pricing, per a law passed in Albany in 2019 under then-Governor Cuomo.

But the Partnership for New York City, which was founded by David Rockefeller in 1979 and represents nearly 300 C.E.O.s from the city’s top corporate, investment and entrepreneurial firms, said shifting the tax burden solely onto Big Apple big businesses would be unfair and “unsustainable.”

Instead the Partnership hopes Hochul changes her mind and still ultimately O.K.’s congestion pricing.

“The Partnership for New York City opposes any increase in the Payroll Mobility Tax (PMT) to replace the $1 billion annual revenues that were to be generated by congestion pricing tolls,” the group said in a statement. “Taxes on business and real estate already account for 44% of the MTA revenues. Rider fares represent another 27%. Tolls from vehicles are only 13% of MTA funding, an inequitable allocation that congestion pricing would have helped correct. The MTA was depending on congestion pricing tolls to fund a portion of the current $50 billion capital program, but the next five-year capital program is unfunded and will likely require an increase in the PMT in 2025.

“The size of needed increases in the PMT are not ‘tweaks,'” the Partnership protested. “Without congestion pricing tolls, the dependence on the PMT to fund all the MTA needs is unsustainable. In addition, the proposed PMT increase is targeted solely at employers in the five boroughs with payrolls of $1.75 million or more, as opposed to taxing the entire MTA region. A third of the employees who work in Manhattan do not live in the city but in the surrounding suburbs, including New Jersey and Connecticut.

“Congestion pricing spread the MTA funding burden equitably across all the constituencies that benefit from the mass transit system that supports the tristate regional economy. The PMT burden is entirely on New York City, which is already the most highly taxed city in the country. The governor should allow congestion pricing to move forward.”

Meanwhile, Transportation Alternatives, shellshocked by Hochul’s 11th-hour reversal on congestion pricing, has launched a frantic lobbying effort, urging people to call their state senator and assemblyperson and demand the traffic tax go through. Trans Alt is emphasizing that Hochul, were she to approve an increase in income tax withholding, would be hitting “working New Yorkers” to fill the M.T.A. revenue shortfall.

The anti-car group is asking callers to tell their state lawmakers the following: “I am shocked and furious that you are considering a payroll tax increase on working New Yorkers. I support congestion pricing. I oppose any payroll tax increases. Please, don’t let Governor Hochul get away with this last-minute abandonment of her obligation to the city. Save congestion pricing.”


  1. redbike redbike June 6, 2024

    I’m posting this comment here, but Phyllis Eckhaus’s excellent “Tragic opera: The Astor Place riots of 1849” provoked it — ‘provoked’ in a good way. Eckhaus’s May 10, 2024, article about Astor Place credits and draws on “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898,” by Edwin G. Burrows and Mike Wallace, for most of her article. The Astor Place riots were — in the greater scheme of NYC’s history — a minor incident.

    One overarching takeaway from “Gotham” is that “No Taxation Without Representation” was an early triumph of American advertising and public relations. What underpinned the colonies’ rebellion against England was … “No Taxation.” Full stop.

    Hochul’s cowardly ‘pause’ of congestion pricing is a reward to those who reject taxes — in whatever form.

    We want services. We don’t want to pay for them. And that’s nothing new.

  2. Lia Lia June 6, 2024

    In my experience, Transportation Alternatives is only interested in bicycling.

    They don’t care much about the subway and they don’t care about buses at all.
    (They are happy to close streets for Open Streets even if it results in forcing bus detours)

    TransAlt just wants more space for bike lanes.

    • carl rosenstein carl rosenstein June 9, 2024

      Nobody rides bicycles anymore, they’ve been bullied off of the road by e-bikes and scooters.

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